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Grove Parc tenants respond

The Grove Parc Tenants Association has issued a response to a June 27 Boston Globe article on presidential candidate Barack Obama’s housing policies.

The article casts Grove Parc as a “symbol of the broader failure of giving public subsidies to private companies to build and manage affordable housing — an approach strongly backed by Obama as the best replacement for public housing”; and as one of a number of affordable housing “failures…developed and managed by Obama’s closest friends and political supporters.”

The 504-unit development was acquired from HUD by the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp. in 1999, and fell into serious disrepair under management by the Habitat Co., headed by close Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett.

But, as the Globe article fails to note, in January — following months of organizing culminating in a sit-in by tenants at the local HUD office — foreclosure on the property was halted, and a new tenant-selected nonprofit management company took over the development.

From the GPTA statement:

“The Globe article, while rightly raising concerns about the failure of the private sector to adequately provide for the housing needs of the poor, unfortunately leaves out half of the story.

“Grove Parc is not just an example of the failures of past policies, but a beacon of hope for the way forward. Tenants have not only stopped foreclosure and the displacement of some 500 low income families, but also brought in new management committed to working with the tenants to rebuild affordable and quality housing for all residents.

“In so doing, we have highlighted two fundamental principles that both presidential candidates would do well to heed as they finalize their housing policy platforms — first, the full participation of tenants, who have the biggest stake in housing policy, and second, the guarantee of quality housing for all as a human right and social responsibility.

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Obama, Kerry on FCC

“The FCC may soon consider changes in the media ownership rules that only help big media get bigger, but do nothing to make media more responsive to minority viewpoints and local communities,” write Senators Obama and Kerry in Politico.

“If the FCC chairman chooses to reopen media ownership rules, he must take into consideration the needs of local or minority communities.

“If this is done improperly, more radio stations, television stations and newspapers will fall into the hands of fewer owners and those owners are less likely to include minority firms. It means that fewer minority- and independently owned stations and newspapers will be able to contribute to the national dialogue.”

Footnote: When the FCC held hearings here in September, Newstips noted the Free Press study showing that Chicago has the lowest level of minority ownership among the nation’s 22 largest radio markets.

[MORE 11-12-07]

Obama and Kerry are cosponsors of legislation to halt the FCC’s rush to gut longstanding media ownership rules, Free Press reports.

The Media Ownership Act of 2007, sponsored by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-SD) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.), would direct the FCC to hold hearings on the issue of localism — and create an independent minority and female ownership task force — before moving forward with any changes to media ownership limits.

Commented Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press:

“We are thrilled to see members from both sides of the aisle stand up for the public. This critical legislation will restore fairness and transparency in what has become a corrupt process at the FCC.

“In the rush to gut media ownership rules, the Commission has ignored the American people, neglected the media diversity crisis, and buried evidence that consolidation harms local communities. The Media Ownership Act would hold the FCC accountable for listening to the public and ensuring that the public airwaves reflect America’s diverse local communities.

“The American people overwhelmingly oppose any rule changes that would allow big companies to swallow up more of their local media. This bill is an important reminder from Congress that the FCC must answer to the public, not corporate interests.”

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